Memoirs of Spit the Sheep Wine Dog

How Spit became a Whicher Ridge Wine Dog …

With new lambs being born here on the farm this week, it had me reminiscing about when Spit arrived here unannounced in July 2011, coming home one evening in the front of the ute with Neil. He was not more than a day old.

Neil announced soon afterwards that the lamb’s name would be Spit, with a grin on his face. Spit was called Spit, not because he was going to be destined to be on one, but after spittoon, or to spit out a grape seed. Whatever the reasoning behind his name, he will never, ever, end up on one.

Rearing an orphaned lamb can be a challenge and is not always successful, mainly due to the fact that they may not survive, especially if they haven’t had that first vital drink from Mum which gives them a good dose of sheep gut bacteria and other goodies to give them a good start in life. Spit thrived though, and had a very healthy appetite and was soon in a routine of sleeping at night in our shed with a column heater to keep him warm, then each morning his day started with Neil letting him out of his pen and he then galloped into the kitchen to get his first warm milk feed for the day from his mum (me), then it was outside to eat grass and play with his best mate, Sally, our black and tan kelpie.

Sally was overjoyed that Neil had brought her home a lamb, the grin on her face when she first met Spit was unforgettable, a doggy grin from ear to ear! Sally and Spit spent a lot of time together when Spit was young and you could almost say they were inseparable. Playing for them was chasies, one would chase the other around the house, then they would stop, face each other, and the roles would change, with the chaser becoming the chased.

Whenever Neil rode out around the farm on the bike, Sally was always there with him, and so too was Spit, running along with the bike just like any good farm dog would do.

As Spit grew older and bigger, he was soon relegated to a small paddock with our chooks as he had a nasty habit of eating everything and anything, with rose flowers and birds of paradise leaves, being at the top of his menu. His first vintage in 2012 had him discovering just how tasty grape stalks fresh out of the crusher can be. So in order for our garden to survive, and for us to keep him out of the winery during vintage, he had to be contained like a sheep in a paddock …

Spit now shares a paddock with our four dorper ewes and three new lambs. He wasn’t impressed at all about being placed with them, and would much rather prefer to spend his time with us.

When Neil drives past on the farm bike, Spit often runs alongside doing Peppy Le Pew springs off all 4 legs if he gets really excited. Spit watches the farm life moving and happening around him, taking it all in from grape harvesting to winery work, pruning, to cattle and horses coming and going beside him, to the noisy rooster and hens scruffing around in their paddock across from him. Spit comes when you call him, much like a dog would, and he is always keen to get as close as he can to Polly, maybe this brings back memories to him of his time spent with Sally. Spit is our very special Wine (Sheep) Dog, and as far as I know, we are the only winery to have a Wine Sheep Dog.